Treasure Planet should have been a hit, but, despite fairly good reviews from critics, it never gained much of an audience and sadly joined a string of Disney flops that led to the canning of their traditional animation department. I don’t understand the chilly reception since the film has much going for it. It’s a futuristic telling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, with spectacular cutting-edge visuals that combined hand-drawn and CGI animation, funny and likable characters, and some truly touching scenes. It’s also Disney’s most exciting animated movie, in my opinion, and was nominated for an Oscar (unfortunately losing to Spirited Away).
The voice actors suit their characters perfectly. The roles of Captain Amelia and Dr. Doppler were written with Emma Thompson and David Hyde Pierce in mind, but Brian Murray as Silver and an up-and-coming Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jim Hawkins fill their roles equally well. Martin Short is at his most frenetic as B.E.N., the castaway who has literally lost his mind, at times making Robin Williams look like a Type B personality. The script ranges from tear jerking to hilarious, and I love a few well-timed references to Star Trek and Jaws.
With all this going for it, why then did the movie bomb? I can’t say. Roger Ebert claimed it was too “gimmicky” to futurize the classic adventure novel, but I don’t think this gimmick is any worse than, say, The Great Mouse Detective, in which Disneyreimagined a Sherlock Holmes mystery with rodents. Then again, John Musker and Ron Clements did direct both films. Hmm.
It’s true that the concept may not be as original as it at first seems. Don Bluth’s even less-successful Titan A.E. was released just two years earlier and featured a heavy mix of traditional animation and CGI and a science fiction plot involving a fatherless young rogue following a map through the stars. In addition, there was even an Italian miniseries in the 1980s entitled Treasure Island in Outer Space or Treasure Planet. I don’t know if anything in Disney’s film was drawn from that, but it’s interesting to note.
As much as I’ve defended Treasure Planet, I must admit that, compared with most of Disney’s films, it just doesn’t stick out like others do. I may just like other movies better, but Treasure Planet is nonetheless a wondrous retelling of a classic story that anyone can enjoy.
Best line: (Captain Amelia to Dr. Doppler) “Doctor, to muse and blabber about a treasure map in front of this particular crew demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic! And I mean that in a very caring way.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: 10 Originality: 5 Watchability: 8 Other (I just like other films more): -9 TOTAL: 36 out of 60
Next: #255 – Silverado
© 2014 S. G. Liput
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